Kimi Raikkonen had a much tougher time of it, ending up tenth out of ten in the final part of the session.
Suzuka – Given what a demanding and exciting track Suzuka is, this afternoon’s qualifying hour was a somewhat subdued affair, with no crashes or dramas and it ended with the Mercedes duo on the front row, Nico Rosberg taking his eighth pole of the year ahead of team-mate and championship leader, Lewis Hamilton.
And for the sixth time this season, the twenty fifth occasion since he joined Scuderia Ferrari, the thirty fifth in his F1 career, Fernando Alonso qualified fifth. However, having admitted it was a common occurrence, the Spaniard said it was different to many others, as he’d enjoyed himself this afternoon securing his slot on the inside of the third row.
Unfortunately, the typhoon expected tomorrow is creating a bit of tension,
In the other F14 T, Kimi Raikkonen had a much tougher time of it, ending up tenth out of ten in the final part of the session. Unlike the other nine Q3 participants, the Finn was down to one set of the softer Medium tyres having used a set to get through Q1.
He was always going to have a difficult time of it, as he lost running earlier in the weekend and a problem in FP3 this morning curtailed his track time still further, before the mechanics worked a miracle to change his power unit in double quick time to get him out for Q1.
Sochi the Saturday topic in Suzuka
What can our drivers do from rows 3 and 5? That will depend very much on the weather. It’s usual in Formula 1 to be looking ahead to the following day, but today, the talk was not so much about tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix, but rather next Sunday’s inaugural race on Russian soil in Sochi. The imminent arrival of Typhoon Phanfone is likely to bring wind and rain to Suzuka, so that anything could happen in the race, with not one lap completed on a wet track so far this weekend.
However, already concerns are being raised about the difficulty of packing away the huge tonnage of equipment in what are expected to be worsening conditions tomorrow night. If the pack-down has to be delayed on safety grounds and flights on Monday are disrupted, it means cars, equipment and personnel arriving late in Sochi, thus limiting preparation time.
For these reasons and a general concern that bad weather could see the Japanese GP end in darkness, the possibility of bringing the race forward tomorrow is being discussed.
Quotes after qualifying
Fernando Alonso: “I’ve often ended up fifth in qualifying, but I think that today’s result can be seen in a different light as I enjoyed myself a lot out on track, both in the quick parts and the slower ones. So far, this weekend has been very positive as I had a good feeling from the car right from the first lap of free practice. Unfortunately, the typhoon expected tomorrow is creating a bit of tension, because over the past two days, we haven’t done any wet running and having to do the opening lap of the race itself in the rain always complicates matters.
Currently, we don’t know how much rain we can expect, so all we can do is prepare for a difficult race, because Suzuka is a circuit where, even in the dry, incidents can occur and it’s easy to make mistakes. I think that later today, the race director might take a decision regarding this, with the possibility of bringing the race forward.”
Kimi Raikkonen: “Today’s performance was in line with the whole weekend so far and even if I’ve had a good feeling from the car, I was unable to resolve a few problems already encountered on Friday. In the morning’s free practice, a technical problem meant I had to stop running earlier than planned and that prevented us from testing some new components, which would have been useful for the set-up choice.
The team did a great job to get my car ready for qualifying in record time. In the first sector, I had a few balance problems and that stopped me pushing as hard as I wanted. I did my best today and tomorrow we will try and make up some places and have a good race.”
Pat Fry: “Today was particularly tough, starting with the third free practice session, when we had to pit Kimi, having spotted an anomaly on his power unit. Qualifying was reasonably straightforward, especially for Fernando, who finished fifth in all three sessions. The Williams proved to have both good power and aerodynamic downforce, but that won’t stop us trying to attack them.
The Red Bull performance was surprising but one cannot discount them at this track. Unfortunately, the problem on Kimi’s car meant we couldn’t optimise the balance on his car, which is so important at this track, but the mechanics did a really amazing job. In just two hours they managed to dismantle and reassemble the car, configuring a new power unit, so that he could take part in qualifying. Tomorrow, a typhoon is forecast and so we will need to adapt to whatever conditions arise, because the result of the race is not a foregone conclusion.”